Monday, January 14, 2008

Wired Mag: Where the Candidates Stand on Science...

Where the candidates stand on science...

Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have similar science platforms. Each wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, increase research funding and limit political interference in scientific matters.

What do their Republican counterparts say? Below is the across-the-aisle followup to our earlier post on Science's roundup of prominent Presidential candidates' positions on science.

Rudy Giuliani. It's hard to know what Giuliani wants, since he wouldn't let his advisers talk to Science about specific issues. Historically, he's mixed pragmatism and a love of numbers with an ideological preference for non-government solutions. He supports embryonic stem cell research if it doesn't involve cloning and, unique among Republicans, is pro-choice. As New York City's mayor, his science initiatives were boldy framed but foundered because of shoddy follow-through -- a pattern apparently repeated in his run for President, where he has suggested an across-the-board boost for domestic energy production and signaled belief in climate change without spelling out what he plans to do.

John McCain. When scientists say climate change is an urgent problem, the senator from Arizona listens to them; he's made it a central issue in his platform, and over the last several years has drawn the ire of Bush administration officials for criticizing their mishandling of climate change science and policy. He was an architect of the recently-passed energy bill. Like Giuliani, he supports embryonic stem cell research but not cloning; other science issues haven't caught his attention.

Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas governor who once pardoned Keith Richards tends towards personal conservativism balanced by political pragmatism. He's doesn't believe in evolution, but is ambivalent about pushing that belief in schools. His unexpectedly progressive policies on health care earned him liberal praise, and he's framed climate change as a matter of religious conscience; however, his actual climate change proposals emphasize further research over concrete steps.

Mitt Romney. The pro-life Massachusetts governor opposes embryonic stem cell research and isn't certain that people are responsible for climate change, but was instrumental in pushing for commercial biotech in Massachusetts and joined with seven other Northeastern states on a regional CO2-cutting program -- the first of its kind. However, he later pulled out of the agreement and also vetoed an embryonic stem cell research bill. He's pledged to increase energy efficiency research but is otherwise quiet on climate change.

Fred Thompson. Though he's supported federal science projects that benefit his home state, the Tennessee senator seems generally uninterested in science issues. He jumped to ascribe credit for the recent de-differentiation stem cell breakthrough to President Bush's research restrictions and has downplayed the importance of climate change and human responsibility for it.

For the leading Democrats' positions, see this post. I'm also going to contact the candidates excluded by Science -- Republicans Ron Paul, Alan Keyes and Duncan Hunter, as well as Democrats Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden -- for more about their science platforms.

Here is a release from AAS:

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